Esme, The Recipe Hunter, asked me to write a guest post, more than 6 months ago. My first thought was Recipe/cooking and me? But I soon drafted a post, found my courage to send it to her, and it was liked and posted by her. Kindly do check out her blog and my guest post there
Esme never gave up on me, when when I did. This post fell perfectly into slot, just before Mother’s Day. Here it goes….
I was walking through WordPress happy and quiet
I was stopped by Esme, the great recipe hunter, for a bite
She asked – how about I do a guest post
I looked back and I looked around in my haste
Wondering whom she’s talking to
She looked directly at me, said— you, Shalini, you
I looked incredulous and thought meeee???
I review books, couldn’t she see?
I thanked her for the honour bestowed
I walked back dizzy, confused, and dazed
I came home and told family and friends
They laughed and laughed and are laughing still
One even said, thank God it’s a written post
Dish by Shalini – what will it cost
Our money, our health, our sanity
That, I tell you, really hit my vanity…
One even said – Shalini and cooking, will heavens fall?
I was unfazed, I will show them all.
It’s true I don’t like cooking it all
I never have and I never will
Though I love the cookery shows and the shiny gadgets still
Well, people don’t realize this at all
It’s not cooking that I hate the most
It’s what it represents to me since ages past
I’ve grown up seeing my mom in the kitchen
Everyone who came home ordered her about
I never saw her going past the kitchen door
I saw her exhausted, sitting on the kitchen floor
Yet when I asked her any thing
She never said no
She got up and made and fed me so
I saw her crying her tears on the stove
I saw her holding her dreams so close
Her only aim was her children should strive
To be away from the kitchen and have a drive
I saw my mom bring us up with hardships
She battled the world for our freedom and needs
The lady who knew nothing about English and world around
The family and the responsibilities that kept her bound
In the years she has self-taught to keep up with us
She learnt English by reading newspapers and books
She can finely deal with the world, with no help from us all
When needs be, she stands up, strong and tall
The woman who was put down by everyone
Is today a person who lives by her rules alone
Her life still revolves around her children
But she is very much her own boss
She still cooks but she does it coz
She wants to
Not because she has to
She is the woman who is the strongest of all
She is the one who is the centre of us all.
Life is nothing without her
Life is worth living with her
I still love holding her hand
She still pulls away, saying she is independent now
I worry when she goes out alone
I look at her, I am filled with respect and pride
She has shown us what life is all about
Her old dreams gone, but newer ones shine
She has shown, she is a fighter fine
It’s not cooking that I hate the most
It’s the tears my mother shed when her desires were lost.
–— Ode to my mother
I can cook, but I don’t like it much. I do it when it has to be done. The only dish I can cook well is Gajjar ka halwa, which is a sweet dish in India, my way. Many would say that this is not the traditional way, but it works for me and I like it.
I prepare this only on my birthday, and this is how I go about
- 1kg carrots (in India, during the winter months, we do get the carrots which are exclusively meant for this sweet dish, they are of a deeper orange
- milk 1 litre or so
- a pinch of saffron (I use the powder form)
- dry fruits
- a couple of teaspoons of ghee
- Grate all the carrots
- Take a wok, add the grated carrots and equal amount of milk.
- Boil them till the carrots absorb all the milk, first on high flame then on low, as the milk quantity decreases
- Add sugar according to the amount of sweetness needed
- Wait till that gets absorbed completely
- Mix saffron powder and water, add a spoon of that to the carrots to get a darker orange color.
- In another tiny saucepan/wok (tadka kadhai) heat the ghee, add the dry fruits till they are roasted (I prefer cashew nuts and almonds slivers)
- Then pour this over the carrots, mix well, a couple of minutes on the flame. The gajjar ka halwa is done.
The entire preparation for me takes about an hour to be completely done, and I am also done for by that time.